How Public Records Law can force transparency and hopefully bring accountability. Root out the rats!

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This Sunday marks the beginning of  Sunshine Week, a national celebration started in  Florida 15  years ago to promote open government. Transparency is about shedding light.  Transparency brings accountability, and, often, meaningful reform.

On June 3, 2016 Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the first update to Massachusetts public records law since 1973.  House Bill 4333  imposes shorter time frames for agencies to respond to records requests.  Most agencies need to respond within 10-days but can be granted a 20-day extension provided they show good cause for it.  Those who believe a state agency  has violated its legal obligations can petition the Supervisor of Records and agencies are also subject to punitive damages for failure to comply with the requirements.

Massachusetts has historically ranked at the bottom of the barrel in terms of giving its citizens  access to public records.  A 2015 assessment by  a non-profit investigative news organization gave the state a grade of F and ranked it below Mississippi and Arkansas in the category of public records access (40th in the nation).

Under the new law documents previously provided with missing or illegible date-stamps were requested from the board.  The sole reason for this request was to  determine if these documents were submitted as evidence and forwarded to the tribunal for consideration at the hearing for which they were considered to be heard a, heretofore impossible task due to toothless public records law in Massachusetts.  This matter should be a given.  If I mail a letter I do not question or fret over whether or not it was received by the person I sent it to and  the same dynamic applies here.  It is a given assumption  that documents submitted as evidence for at hearing reaches those individuals who are supposed to hear that evidence at that hearing.    That is how the system is supposed to work and, like a lost letter, exceptions should be rare as there are safeguards in place to assure it.   Here we have a group that has removed those safeguards.  The Physician Health and Compliance Unit (PHCU) is part of the medical board but independent of the medical board and exist as a self-contained unit with no oversight, auditing of or accountability.   The PHCU was created to serve as a liaison between the state PHP and medical board to handle board cases involving doctors being monitored under PHP contract.  Ostensibly they are an objective go-between and these individuals are assumed to seek, follow and tell the truth.  Their job is to review the evidence and let the chips fall where they may.  They do not.  Given the power to act as their own hearing officers and present cases to the board they hold all the chips.  All evidence supporting any doctors case before the board in a physician health case must be submitted to the PHCU, not directly to the board and if that evidence contradicts the PHP then it never ever gets to the board.  This has been suspected for years but when these documents are later requested to see if they had been reviewed board has been able to  delay, withhold and censor them.  There has previously been no way to determine these matters and they could get away with whatever they wanted by gaming the system under toothless laws.

Not anymore (hopefully).

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Public Records Division has been a breath of fresh air. Those I have interacted with have integrity and empathy as well as zeal.   Although limited in scope they can hold agencies to account by demanding the provision of complete, legible and accurate records and not backing down.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts stated:

“As the cradle of liberty, Massachusetts should lead the way on openness and transparency, not lag behind the rest of the nation. The law Governor Baker just signed will help us catch up and begin to take our rightful place among those states that highly value and promote transparency.”


Document Submitted as Evidence for Hearings Date-Stamped  Long After

In response to a June 2016 request the board provided  just one with a legible date-stamp; a December 15, 2011 letter requesting  an attached “litigation packet”be   considered at an upcoming December 21, 2011 hearing .  The documents are all date-stamped January 17 2012 (nearly one month after ).. All of the other documents where  illegible or missing dates rendering it impossible to determine if and when they were entered into evidence  as required by law under  M.G.L. c. 30A§ 11(4) which states:

All evidence, including any records, investigation reports, and documents in the possession of the agency of which it desires to avail itself as evidence in making a decision, shall be offered and made a part of the record in the proceeding, and no other factual information or evidence shall be considered, except as provided in paragraph (5) of this section. Documentary evidence may be received in evidence in the form of copies or excerpts, or by incorporation by reference.

Board Defense counsel Bryan Bertram dismissed the date-stamp as irrelevant and claimed it did reflect when it was entered into evidence but when it was scanned into the  Document Imaging Unit (DIU) . He claimed this occurs  after hearings not before. See  logical fallacy and lies.  We filed a Motion to Produce Documents (SJC-2015-0267, # 44) with legible dates which Bertram opposed in his  Response to Motion to Produce Documents

Bertram claimed “board staff” had reviewed its records and minutes and retrieved  from “off-site storage” those “materials before the Board in December 2011.”  The documents I claimed were suppressed, he claims , “are in fact there.”  and provides footnotes:


1 The Board’s staff has reviewed its records and confirmed this to be the case.

2 To be sure, and to put this matter to rest for the Court once and for all, the Board has retrieved from off­site storage those materials before the Board in December 2011. The documents that Dr. Langan claims were “suppressed” are in fact there—and this should not be surprising given the Board’s many orders since that time, all of which have disclaimed any reliance on the July 2011 PEth test.

3 The Board’s staff has confirmed this by reviewing its minutes.

He claimed my request was :

“……nothing more than an attempt to impose upon the Board a duty–absent from any statute, regulation or rule to search for and produce documents to him that are outside of that record.  Dr. Langan’s  Motion tellingly directs this Court to no authority to support such a request. Because it is devoid any basis in the law, the Motion should be denied.”


As of January 1, 2o17 my request for  legible documents does have a basis in the law. Authority does now exist to support such a request.

I filed a Public Records Request under the new law on January 9, 2017.   I received a response from Board counsel Robert Harvey  ( January 20, 2017 documents provided by board).   Most are still illegible or missing dates.  The same document date-stamped nearly one -month after the hearing for which it was submitted was provided.   One other had legible dates.   A document written June 6, 2013  is stamped both electronically and by hand with dates sometime in 2012, before it was ever written.

And in response to an Order from the Supervisor of Records  I was  provided the very same document date-stamped January 17, 2012.   But it is not a copy but original as indicated by the “blue-ink.    This original document precludes the existence of any others date-stamped earlier than January 17, 2012.    This documents no earlier dated copies could have been submitted as evidence before the hearing. This document was never admitted into evidence and may not be relied upon by the board in its decision M.G.L. c. 30A, § 11(4).

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The records, minutes, and materials  reviewed and retrieved by “board staff” constitute public records. I requested them. I also requested the board “reports” that would have resulted from “board staff” confirming  it was before the board in 2012.

“ABA Model Rule 3.3, Candor Toward The Tribunal, declares that ‘a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.’ If a lawyer ‘has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.’

An attorney must have a factual basis for alluding to, offering, or relying on evidence at trial. That factual basis may not be wishful thinking. There are two requirements for a factual basis — an attorney’s subjective belief, and objective evidence to support that belief.

But none exist.  Not one  document, reference, record, or any other materials exist that are chronologically consistent with the documents being before the board in 2012. The only document that exists is the litigation packet date-stamped a month after the hearing.

I asked Bertram to either provide the factual basis or admit to the false statements.  He’s been ignoring me and will not answer.

The whole picture depicts the respondent as an attorney who, when it serves his advantage, is willing to violate clear norms of professional responsibility and to engage in purposeful deceit which harms others.

“The privilege of practicing law does not come without the concomitant responsibility of truth, candor, and honesty. Because no single transgression reflects more negatively on the legal profession than a lie, attorney misconduct involving dishonesty justifies disbarment.” Id. (quoting In re Young’s Case, 913 A.2d 727 (N.H. 2006)).

No matter what it takes I am going to make sure that is a certainty in this case.

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  MA Board Attorney Deb Stoller’s Fraud Upon the Court

Defending MA BORM Deb Stoller’s Five-Year Concealment of Fraud–Nothing left but logical fallacy and lies

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I am Offering Over $25,000 in cool prizes to anyone who can show past FSPHP President Sanchez did not commit at least 3 felonies based on documentary evidence alone! I claim the documents show direct evidence of multiple serious crimes –prove me wrong and the whole lot is yours!

Going on two months and no takers!screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-12-18-42-pm

Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) removed from accountability with low risk of suffering consequences for misconduct

According to Erich Fromm rational authority is based on competence, experience, and mutual respect.  Irrational authority is often disguised as benevolent paternalism and is designed to perpetuate or intensify conditions of inequality through the use or threat of force, deceptiveness, and secretiveness.

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) has has operated as an unexamined authority for the past 25-years .  They have pushed practice and policy unquestioned and without opposition that has gravely harmed individual doctors, the medical profession itself and the public at large.  Everything they have done has been done to benefit themselves and their drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment affiliates in the provision of protections, power and profits.

Examining the specific practice and policy pushed reveals a body of false-claims making designed to facilitate the systemic use of coercion and threats, remove all due process protections and fundamental rights from physicians and prevent, block and eliminate the evidence.  This practice and policy collective has created a culture of impunity, immunity and deference that is able to successfully conceal ethical violations and crimes.  Uncovering their wrongdoing is a nearly impenetrable gauntlet. It is a system of institutional injustice that is undoubtedly a major contributor to the suicide epidemic in the profession.  They have been able to conceal the truth, avoid investigation and prevent punishment for years by removing themselves from all accountability and outside inquiry. Direct and specific questioning appears to be their Achille’s heel as the recent spat of articles critical of these programs is showing just how much of an illegitimate authority they really are.

In her rebuttal to Pauline Anderson’s article “Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?” FSPHP President Doris Gunderson dismissed the accusations of fraud and abuse in one fell swoop as  “allegations rather than facts” and second hand anecdotes.  Countering allegations of an absence of oversight and regulation she states:

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“In fact, we operate under a microscope, answering to individual practitioners, medical boards, malpractice carriers, defense attorneys, state attorneys, medical societies, hospitals, medical schools and residency training programs. We are also accountable to patient safety entities and a Board of Directors.”

Untrue. Accountability demands both provision of information and justification for actions to outside entities capable of punishing misconduct. . What was done and why?  No such entity exists and no pathway for appeal or grievance redressal exists either. Zero accountability.  Ditto for the “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers. As cash only out-of-pocket facility they remove themselves from the prying eyes of insurers.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-55-47-amThe North Carolina PHP Audit  found the past FSPHP President and NC PHP director Warren Pendergast could not identify the qualitative or quantitative indicators used for “approving”  PHP-approved facilities. The best he could come up with is “reputation” and “word of mouth” yet state medical boards mandate evaluations of doctors at these  facilities and specifically exclude  non-“PHP-approved” facilities.This is enforced by the Federation of State Medical Boards Policy on Physician Impairment.  Each state managed by the FSPHP utilizes the same dozen or so facilities and each state medical board mandates it under threat of disciplinary action.  It is in fact a rigged gam

Denying accusations of coercion Gunderson states in her rebuttal to Anderson’s article:

“The detractors of PHPs interviewed for the article maintain that PHPs are coercive. Yet the report fails to mention that PHPs have no authority to mandate treatment and monitoring, suspend or revoke licensure, or otherwise discipline physicians.”

screen-shot-2015-10-07-at-7-11-18-pmThe report fails to mention it because it is more either/or logical fallacy based on the false dichotomy between “treatment” and “punishment” that is often used to promote the FSPHP mythology.  Although PHPs do not have the legal authority to mandate, suspend or revoke a license they have the functional authority to do so.   This is also dictated by public policy.  (ASAM Policy on Coordination Between Treatment Providers,  Professionals Health Programs, and Regulatory Agencies).

Legitimate authority articulates ethical, evidence-based, or internally consistent arguments when challenged.  Legitimate authority does not simply delegitimize one’s opponent and use logical fallacy and obfuscation to avoid addressing the substance of an argument. In her rebuttal Gunderson claims the NC Audit was favorable to them because no evidence of abuse was found.  This is akin to a serial killer claiming victory because no bodies were found in his dungeon replete with torture devices and restraints. State auditor Beth Woods set this straight when she told the BMJ in  Physician Health Programs Under Fire  that the holes were big enough in the program “you could drive a truck through them” and it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to defend” oneself against an incorrect assessment” as no ability to “appeal a diagnosis or assessment” existed.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-52-11-am“Compounding the problem, said Wood, was that “the chief executive and medical director were in total control of entire process.” They assessed allegedly impaired doctors, but when those assessments were contested, they were responsible for presenting complaints to the state medical board. The doctors concerned were not allowed to be present and were not allowed to see the programs’ medical reports on them.”

Multiple Barriers Removing Accountability at Multiple Levels

The  inability to obtain one’s own medical records or lab reports is the first obstacle one must overcome. The second barrier is that even if documents are obtained there is no one to give them to.  The third is the existence of “point people” who deflect, block and otherwise dismiss valid complaints.  The only oversight provided to the involved labs is an an accreditation agency, the  College of American Pathologists (CAP) They can investigate and correct but do not have the ability to sanction.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-13-29-pmOf the many hundreds of doctors I have spoken to and who have taken my survey not one has been able to obtain evidence of abuse.  It was either refused, censored or doctored.   I have obtained documentary evidence that is specific, detailed and unequivocal.

It is therefore critical it be recognized for what it shows and it is morally imperative that those involved be held to account as the documents illustrate clearly and undeniably a collusion between a state PHP and its drug testing lab to fabricate evidence.  The corruption is top-down as it involves another former FSPHP President Luis Sanchez and the VP of Laboratory operations at USDTL Joseph Jones.  As explicit and detailed as it is in revealing unequivocal  black and white crimes it has been ignored by the usual channels.

Research on street criminals suggests the certainty of punishment has the strongest deterrent effect (basically will I be caught) and the more people think they will be arrested for a crime the less likely they are to commit it. Criminals weigh their actions against possible gains and consequences and the risk of consequences in this system have been essentially zero.  Diagnosis rigging, coercion, threats and abuse are rampant because they have no fear of punishment.  The Chairman of the commission that examined the  causes of the 2008 financial collapse compared the  relatively small fines paid by corporations to “someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and being able to settle for $25 and no admission of wrongdoing.” He added,“Will they do it again? Absolutely, because it pays.” This is like someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and never gets caught so he goes to the next 7-Eleven and takes $2000 then hits as many 7-Elevens as he can for as much as he can.

Multiple Crimes, Multiple Felonies and Egregious Misconduct.  Fabrication, Falsification, Concealment and Perjured Evidence. Color-of-Law Abuse, Civil Rights Violations 

In June of 2011 I signed a patent-license agreement with a company to bring an epinephrine auto-injector to FDA approval  within three years.  It was recently mentioned in an NBC news article in the wake of Mylan’s Epipen price hike and the patent  documents can be seen here and a slideshare overview here.  This was successfully derailed the following month when I was asked by the state PHP to have an alcohol test.  This was for no apparent reason. I have never been accused of having an alcohol problem and my work performance at MGH was reported as “impeccable.” There were no issues in any arena.  The events are described in detail here, here, and here.

The blood test was reported positive to the medical board on July 19, 2011 as seen here:   positive-peth-july-19-2011    I requested records but PHS refused but relented in December 2011 and I obtained the   USDTL Litigation Packet  which contained a faxed request from PHS to the lab requesting my unique  identification number and a “chain-of-custody” be added to an already positive report See key docs here.:12:3:2011 Litigation Packet (Selected)

The records showed falsely created and fabricated evidence. Clear fraud. I filed a complaint with the College of American Pathologists CAPLetter.  They investigated and forced USDTL to correct the test as reported in an  October 4, 2012 letter from the lab to Sanchez. Instead of revealing the correction the two concealed the revision and reported “non-compliance”  two weeks later  and board took disciplinary action against my license.  In December 2012 CAP contacted me to followup on the outcome of the revised test which I was unaware of.   I informed them they did not tell me and confronted  PHS but they claimed no knowledge of it.. On December 11, 2012 Sanchez reports to the board that he just found out that the test was revised but it had nothing to do with the disciplinary action taken by the board..  Sanchez and Jones deny there was any correction 67-days earlier and stand by their guns.

In August of 2014 I was able to obtain the complete USDTL documents under new HIPPA-Privacy Rule for labs which removed PHS approval.  Full docs can be seen here:  August 6, 2014 to Langan with health materials.   The  October 4, 2012 correction from USDTL to Sanchez  contradicting Sanchez claim of not finding out about the correction until December is included.Note the language used in the  Letter claiming Sanchez was informed of the revised  test 67-days after he actually was.

Recently obtained documents under records reform act –  Langan PDF copy  They show documents entered as evidence date-stamped and entered into the administrative record after the hearings at which they were to be heard.   Multiple others missing and never addressed.   It is now clear that Stoller concealed all documents relating to PHS misconduct since December of 2011.

Specific and detailed evidence of criminal activity was provided to Board Attorney Deb Stoller over the course of more than five-years. This showed clear collusion between the state physician health program and one of their preferred national drug testing labs.  It is important to recognize the gravity of what this means.   I provided a state officer with evidence of crimes similar to Annie Dookhan–clear fabrication and collusion to fabricate evidence. She suppressed it.     This is much much worse than Annie Dookhan as the lab is used by state physician health programs across the country and over the past five-years their have been multiple suicides of doctors who have allegedly been given fabricated drug and alcohol tests just like mine.    Many of these doctors were given positive tests right before they were to complete a 5-year contract and this is a pattern that seems to be occurring as the rule rather than the exception.   Facing five more years of abuse some doctors have chosen to end their lives rather than continue with the PHP.

Specific and detailed evidence of the fraud was given to Deb Stoller over the course of five-years and she did nothing about it to protect Sanchez.   The impact of this is much greater and the consequences much more severe than what occurred with Dookhan.  As The documents clearly showed felony crimes this is egregious and indefensible.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-14-00-pmWhat is chilling is that this request to falsify evidence was done by fax and the lab complied with full knowledge that the positive-test would result in grave and possibly permanent consequences for someone.  The moral detachment of Jones is incomprehensible to me.  If I was offered a  million dollars at this moment to fabricate a drug test on some stranger I would not do it. I would not for any amount of money and I don not believe the majority of my friends would either.I also contacted Jones (  August 6, 2014 to Langan with health materials ) and told him of the severe consequences this was having for my family but he did not respond.   Had it not been for the new HIPAA -Privacy rule I would never have obtained these documents and without the record reforms act I would never have obtained the evidence implicating Stoller ( Langan PDF copy )

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-13-52-pmIt is now time to enter phase two of exposing the corruption of PHPs. It is now necessary to necessary to relentlessly contradict the lies and falsehoods and and present the evidence with logic and clarity.    It is necessary to name names, point fingers and demand that direct and specific answers to direct and specific questions.  It is time to shine a bright light on the specific  unethical and illegal acts detailed here. They are the rule not the exception and the diagnostic rigging and forensic fraud make these more murders than suicides. This is a public health emergency.   By my estimates over 80% of those being monitored by PHPs do not even meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder or any other psychiatric disorder.  It is political abuse of psychiatry.

screen-shot-2016-04-26-at-10-58-19-pmLegitimate authority has a responsibility to be truthful to one’s words and deeds and policies need to be enforced in a consistent manner.  State PHPs are engaging in fraud in collusion with their preferred drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment centers.   They are giving diagnoses to individuals who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for a given diagnosis to provided unneeded treatment. They are financially exploiting doctors under threat of disciplinary action against there medical licenses.

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The Board claims no crimes were committed because no one has been charged with any crimes.  No, Dr. Sanchez has committed very serious crimes including multiple felonies. This can no longer be ignored. These crimes can be determined by the documentary evidence alone. They are self-evident.

To settle the matter once and for all I am offering over $25,000.00 in cool prizes to the first person who can disprove my claim that Dr. Sanchez committed multiple felonies.    My claim is that by simply looking at the dates and documents multiple felonies are clear.  They are not equivocal.  The first person to disprove this assertion may collect each and every item pictured below.  You can even write up a legally binding contract and I will sign it. There is something for everyone and if anyone has any questions about any of it feel free to ask.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-7-26-42-pm

To summarize,  I can find multiple clear  felonies in the documents that need no further inquiry. They are black letter law and involve fraud, concealment, perjury and other crimes.  Policies and laws need to be enforced equally.   The Board cannot play favorites and give allowances to its friends when it comes to criminal activity.  Sanchez is licensed by the medical board just as I am and the screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-08-18-pmboard’s position on the fraudulent practice of medicine is quite clear.

One felony would be demand the board address what is seen here.  Multiple felonies make it inexcusable to ignore and if it is ignored it will be relentlessly addressed again and again and again.   As it is so difficult to obtain evidence it is necessary that this be addressed with full measure as a precedent.  People just like this are harming good doctors across the country and unless you are profiting from the drug and alcohol testing and treatment racket you should be disgusted at what is seen here.   The fact that Sanchez pontificates on the behavior of others makes this particularly egregious.  Moreover, Jones also tests newborns and other groups with these same tests.  If he is this unethical who knows what amount of damage has occurred.  Anyone of integrity and conscience should be outraged by what is seen here.  As it is one of the clearest and most specific examples of laboratory fraud I am going to be asking for help getting this out–it should be used to show how this type of drug and alcohol testing can be abused.

Direct and specific questions deserve direct and specific answers. This will need to be addressed directly as it is not going away and neither am I.   If cannot disprove fewer than three felonies than they need to be addressed.   Suspect similar point-people in other agencies protecting them.

If multiple felonies were not committed then  you would think at this very moment there should be people knocking on the door trying to get my attention so they can collect these prizes.    I don’t hear anybody knocking, do you?

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Prizes as Below

 

Prizes as Below

 

Disrupted Physician

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Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) removed from accountability with low risk of suffering consequences for misconduct

According to Erich Fromm rational authority is based on competence, experience, and mutual respect.  Irrational authority is often disguised as benevolent paternalism and is designed to perpetuate or intensify conditions of inequality through the use or threat of force, deceptiveness, and secretiveness.

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) has has operated as an unexamined authority for the past 25-years .  They have pushed practice and policy unquestioned and without opposition that has gravely harmed individual doctors, the medical profession itself and the public at large.  Everything they have done has been done to benefit themselves and their drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment affiliates in the provision of protections, power and profits.

Examining the specific practice and policy pushed reveals a body of false-claims making designed to facilitate the…

View original post 2,694 more words

MD Sues NC Medical Board/Physician Health Program-A Prototypical Case

A prototypical case involving PHP and Medical Board. PHPs’ integrity varies state by state depending on:

1. How entrenched the FSPHP is in the state PHP

2. Whether that state’s Medical Board has become a partner in PHP’s crimes.

It is very curious that states who have had a Medical Director who has also been President of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs seem to be the worst of the violators.

Based on over 200 responses I have received on my PHP survey [PHP Survey], North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts and Washington State are physician career destroyers whereas West Virginia seems relatively unscathed (although I have learned that the FSPHP has been attempting to impose its “PHP-Bluprint” on the Board with some resistance.

What you see here is a classic case. Physicians and med schools urgently need to become aware and take a stance of resistance to these abuses. Wouldn’t you find this distressing – that only over the past [3 years], I have heard this same story from medical students to doctors in their 80s – through detailed and lengthy conversations – over and over again.

The identical same patterns of PHPs and medical boards acting in collusion emerge. As much as I don’t want to believe it, PHPs, acting in tight collusion with their sibling agencies, the medical licensing boards, have expanded their power and uniformly deprived physicians (and med students!) of their due process rights, against all understandings of appropriate powers with which they were originally vested.

No accountability exists as they have removed due process and freedom of choice.  The PHP controls every aspect of the assessment and monitoring process with absolutely no oversight.  As the North Carolina state PHP audit revealed, there is no oversight from the medical society or medical board.  In addition the assessment and treatment centers and drug-testing labs have no meaningful regulation.  No oversight or regulation of the multiple non-FDA approved laboratory developed tests (LDTs) of unknown validity exist.

As a power accountable to no one, PHPs have become predators who not only stalk and victimize doctors but harm the very public they were supposed to protect!

These PHPs, along with the cozy relationships with medical licensing boards, need to be confronted, as Dr.Manion has done, and dissembled and then rebuilt into accountable organizations state by state.

It seems apparent from my research that the FSPHP is not only an illegitimate but an irrational and opportunistic authority exclusively representing the interests of the medical board and the drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment industry.

PHPs are being promoted as a “gold standard”  and replicable model by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASASM), a “self designated practice specialty” not recognized by ABMS. The ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing  is recommending widespread application of the PHP model in other populations.  The FSPHP arose from ASAM state chapters and their intimate relationship with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) is as tight as thieves.

In addition the medical directors of every one of the “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment programs are not only ASAM doctor but belong to a self-described 12-step group called “like-minded docs.”

Like a treatment industry of the Taliban, they play on the dangers of alcohol use. To some of us, they are little more than prohibitionist profiteers and dimwitted “addiction addicts” who have “recovered (even in the sense of the word that would suggest that they have “recovered” [retrieved and had destroyed] and “re-covered” their felonious past) and are now in firm control of the gates to the rehab farm. As evidenced from previous articles, narcissistic and psychopathic personality disorders abound in this PHP movement. Physicians need to wake up and confront and dismantle this Frankenstein the state PHPs have become. PHPs urgently need accountability and answerability, not more immunity and secrecy. Here we are in a time of great physician scarcity and PHPs and Boards are eliminating physicians with utterly no accountability.

Link to complaint obtained via Pacer:  Manion v NC Medical Board and PHP

2016-02-09 DOC 2 Corrected Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial

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A lawsuit filed by a physician against the North Carolina Physicians Health Program (NCPHP) claims loss of significant and potential earnings as well as public humiliation, irreparable harm to his professional reputation, and severe emotional distress.

Kernan Manion, MD, a practicing psychiatrist for some 30 years, is suing the NCPHP as well as the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB), the North Carolina Medical Society, several past and present medical board officials, and current NCPHP Chief Executive Officer Warren Pendergast, MD.
The suit alleges “arbitrary and unlawful application of summary suspension procedures” resulting from “intentionally and/or negligently abusive practices” and other common law, statutory, and constitutional violations.

In court documents, Dr Manion, who has never before been disciplined by any licensing entity in any state and has never been found liable for malpractice, said he was forced to inactivate his medical license in February 2013 after “wrongful and flawed” diagnoses conducted by the NCPHP and its agents.

He describes the experience with the PHP as “a Kafkaesque nightmare.”

According to events outlined in a statement of facts, Dr Manion, who maintains he has never suffered from mental or emotional health problems or from alcohol, drug, or any other form of substance abuse, was dismissed in September 2009 from his position as a civilian contracted psychiatrist with the Deployment Health Center at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune.

He had raised concerns, which he described as “whistleblowing,” regarding what he felt was deficient care of active duty service members with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Dr Manion brought claims against his employers, alleging retaliatory discharge, after which he says he was harassed and followed, prompting him to contact local police.

Shortly thereafter, Dr Manion said he was notified by the NCMB that someone at the police department had expressed “concern” about his mental health and that the NCMB had opened an investigation.

Malice?

On his own initiative, Dr Manion obtained a comprehensive psychological evaluation, which, he said, concluded that he did not have a delusional disorder and that recommended that he be permitted to retain his unrestricted medical license. Despite this, says the statement, the NCMB ordered Dr Manion to undergo an assessment by the NCPHP, which he did.

That assessment, carried out by Dr Pendergast, concluded “wrongly and negligently or intentionally and with malice” that Dr Manion was mentally ill and in doing so, “relied upon only the unofficial information provided by the police office, reviewed no clinical records, and failed to interview any collateral sources as is required in such evaluations.”

Dr Pendergast apparently then recommended that Dr Manion complete a comprehensive psychological evaluation at an out-of-state mental facility. Such facilities, says the court document, often charge thousands of dollars and require that physicians incur costs for travel and spend multiple days, if not months, away from their medical practice.

According to the court document, PHPs have been criticized for “rampant fraud and abuse” and that the NCPHP and NCMB are “riddled with conflicts of interest.”

An audit carried out by the North Carolina state auditor, and reported by Medscape Medical News, found no abuse by the NCPHP but did state that there were “multiple conflicts of interest inherent in the relationships between NCPHP and its preferred assessment and treatment centers and an alarming potential for abuse and violations of the process rights by NCPHP.”

The filed court document also states that there was “no reasonable basis” for the NCMB and the NCPHP to conclude that Dr Manion was impaired and unfit to practice medicine, “conclusions that forced him into a Kafkaesque nightmare that ultimately concluded in the loss of his license and his livelihood.”

Dr Manion said he proposed an alternative in-state evaluation, but in January 2012, “based wholly” on its “intentionally flawed diagnosis and recommendation,” the NCPHP again voted to order Dr Manion to undergo evaluation and treatment at an out-of-state facility.

According to the court files, the NCMB brought formal charges against Dr Manion that alleging he failed to cooperate with the NCPHP. Dr Manion claims he submitted to yet another evaluation to assess his mental health status against his will.

This evaluation concluded that he was delusional “based chiefly on information…received from Dr Pendergast about Dr Manion and not based on medical evidence or corroborative fact checking,” according to the statement.

“Frightened and Threatened”

Told to inactivate his license and immediately resign from his position as medical director at a clinic or have felony charges brought against him for practicing without a license, Dr Manion said he was “frightened and threatened” into inactivating his license on February 9, 2013.

In trying to reactivate his license in December 2014, Dr Manion agreed to submit to another evaluation, which concluded that he “is not delusional, that he is fit to practice medicine, and that the prior evaluations conducted by or at the direction of NCPHP…are flawed and incorrect,” says the statement. It adds that the assessor believed that Dr Manion’s “display of anxiety, distress and intensity is proportionate to the circumstances which have occurred.”

Despite this, Dr Manion said the NCMB wanted him to submit to another NCPHP evaluation in order to activate his license, but he objected to undergoing another assessment.

As a result of these events, Dr Manion claims he has suffered, among other things, loss of significant earnings and potential earnings and the burden and cost of defense against unwarranted action, as well as “public humiliation, irreparable harm to professional reputation, and severe emotional distress.” The suit also claims one of his former patients committed suicide because of interruption of highly specialized care.

The broadly applied policies and practices of the NCPHP “draw unimpaired licensees into a Kafkaesque ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ catch-22 scenario that almost always ends in severe and underserved harm,” says the statement.

The document estimates that Dr Manion has suffered and continues to suffer damages “in excess of $75,000.”

The suit was filed February 8 in the US District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division.

“Unprofessional Conduct”

Medscape Medical News contacted the NCMB for comment, and spokesperson Jean Fisher Brinkley provided the following statement: “NCMB is aware of Dr Manion’s lawsuit but cannot discuss it as the matter is pending litigation.”

However, Brinkley provided a link to public documents on the NCMB website related to the disciplinary case at issue in the lawsuit, which includes “a detailed account of the Board’s concerns regarding Dr Manion.”

According to the October 10, 2012, Notice of Charges and Allegations, the NCMB outlined two charges against Dr Manion: “failure to respond reasonably to a Board inquiry” and “unprofessional conduct.”

On the first charge, the NCMB claims that in failing to undergo an assessment at Acumen Assessments Inc, which is the recommended out-of-state treatment facility, as required by a Board order issued February 27, 2012, Dr Manion’s conduct “constitutes a failure to respond, within a reasonable period of time and in a reasonable manner,” to inquiries from the Board concerning any matter affecting the license to practice medicine, within the meaning of the state’s general statutes.

On the second charge, the NCMB states that Dr Manion’s failure to undergo an assessment at Acumen, as required by the Board, “constitutes unprofessional conduct, including, but not limited to, departure from, or the failure to conform to, the ethics of the medical profession and is the commission of an act contrary to honesty, justice or good morals” within the meaning of the state’s general statutes.

According to the NCMB, for both charges, there are grounds under the general statutes for the Board “to annul, suspend, revoke, condition or limit Dr Manion’s license” to practice medicine.

In addition, the legal notice describes concerns about Dr Manion from a single police officer who reported them to the NCMB in 2010.

According to the NCMB, the police officer was subsequently interviewed by a Board investigator. According to an account of this interview, the officer alleged that Dr Manion spoke to the Wilmington Police Department chief of police in November 2010 and expressed concerns that he was being followed and that a tracking or listening device had been placed on his car.

According to the NCMB report, the officer outlined other instances that were cause for further concern.

Medscape Medical News contacted the NCPHP. However, Dr Pendergast declined to comment, noting that the “NCPHP cannot comment on this matter as it is pending litigation.”

 

Reefer Mad and Power Hungry

Link to article:https://digboston.com/reefer-mad-and-power-hungry/

Please comment on DigBoston website

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In 2013, Dr. Steven Adelman of Physician Health Services (PHS)—a powerful nonprofit founded by the Massachusetts Medical Society that provides help to residents and doctors struggling with substance abuse problems—published a now-infamous article on KevinMD titled, “Against the Medicalization of Marijuana,” in which he lambasted the 63 percent of voters who supported the Massachusetts initiative petition to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for marijuana by qualifying patients with diagnosed debilitating medical conditions. Blasting the mandate for the Department of Public Health to “operationalize the so-called medicinal use of cannabis in the Commonwealth,” Adelman wrote, “the community of physicians has been scratching its collective head and wondering, ‘What in the world are we going to do about patient requests to become certified to purchase, or grow, so-called medical marijuana?’”

In his report, Adelman noted the alleged perilousness of addiction, withdrawal, and cognitive impairment related to cannabis, and warned of the potential onslaught of underground entrepreneurs waiting to capitalize. Adelman, a so-called addiction expert at Harvard Vanguard, predicted a floodgate of unscrupulous profiteers diverting “massive” amounts of this “valuable” “addictive” “substance” to “non-patients,” and guessed that the health and well-being of the “greater public will be jeopardized for the relief of a few.”

As noted by many activists but ignored by all but niche marijuana media, in another instance, Adelmanblamed the bombing of the Boston Marathon on “marijuana withdrawal.” One of his cohorts, Dr. Robert Dupont of the Institute for Behavior and Health, rode a similar bandwagon, arguing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev smoked his way to failure and, because of a disappointing report card, said, “Fuck it, I’ll become a terrorist.” DuPont also served as director for the  National Institute on Drug Abuse and currently runs one of the largest Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in the U.S. with former DEA honcho Peter Bensinger. These guys are in the drug-testing business!

Most doctors don’t think like this. That includes most members of the Massachusetts Medical Society. But very few speak out about the fraud being carried out against the legalized medicinal use of cannabis. How does the same medical society that publishes the New England Journal of Medicine allow this type of tripe and rabble to evade editorial scrutiny? Why no backlash from dissenting doctors? Easy, no one has stood up to Adelman because as the head of an influential Physician Health Program (PHP) like PHS, he has power over the license of every doctor in Mass.

Such state operations have come under major scrutiny. A recent Medscape article titled “Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?” reveals patterns of anonymous referrals, false diagnoses, and a lack of credible process. These state-based programs appear to have created a climate of fear in doctors, as all it takes is an anonymous referral to someone like Adelman to ruin a career. For these reasons, many doctors will not even talk about medical marijuana privately, let alone in public out of fear that they might get referred to their state PHP.

It’s hard to know who to hold accountable for these lies. PHS operates under the national Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP), which is located in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the FSPHP is an arm of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), which also pushes self-serving public policy under the guise of contributing to the greater good. That despite the Massachusetts Medical Society’s charge to “do all things as may be necessary and appropriate to advance medical knowledge, to develop and maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of medical practice and health care, and to promote medical institutions formed on liberal principles for the health, benefit and welfare of citizens of the commonwealth.”

Dr. Langan was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital for more than 15 years. He is a co-founder of a medical device startup and blogs at disruptedphysician.com.

DR. MICHAEL LANGAN

The “Impaired Physician”–Increasing the Grand Scale of the Hunt

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“Wretched creatures are compelled by the severity of the torture to confess things they have never done and so by cruel butchery innocent lives are taken; and by new alchemy, gold and silver are coined from human blood.”  Father Cornelius Loos  ( 1592 )

 

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How Impaired Physicians Can be Helped–Medscape Business of Medicine Article Published February 24, 2015. Click on image to access

How can impaired Physicians be helped?

1.   Impairment among physicians is growing:  Why?  

Answer:  It is not.   State Physician Health Programs (PHPs) are “diagnosing” impairment when there is no impairment.  They are pathologizing the normal and expanding in scope to increase the grand scale of the hunt.

2.  What’s the Prognosis for Impaired Physicians?

Answer:  Not Good.   Those who need help (the truly impaired)  are afraid to get help for fear of being monitored by their state PHP while many of those ensnared by PHPs are not impaired.   There is absolutely no oversight, regulation or accountability.  This needs to be evaluated in the context of physician suicide.    The system is one of institutional injustice and abuse of power. 

3.  Is your knowledge of physician impairment up-to-date?  

Answer:   No.  This will only occur after an evidence-based Cochrane type review separates information from misinformation; An objective non-biased investigation by outside actors identifying any conflicts-of-interest, misconduct or lack of evidence-base in the current system and separating the art and science of the medical profession from the politicalization and exploitation of the medical profession.

The list of doctors on Like-Minded Docs  solves the final piece of a  puzzle. It explains why so many doctors across the country are claiming fabrication and manipulation of personality and cognitive tests to support nonexistent diagnoses at these “PHP-approved” assessment centers.    The relationship between the state PHP’s and the “PHP-approved” assessment centers is the same as it is between the state PHPs and the corrupt labs.

As Drs. John Knight and J. Wesley Boyd note in Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs, published in the Journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine,  this is what is known as “tailoring a diagnosis”–a euphemism for the political abuse of psychiatry.  According to the Global Initiative on Psychiatry “Political abuse of psychiatry refers to the misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, treatment and detention for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain individuals and groups in a given society.”   The shoe fits here.  In fact it fits very well.

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The Global Initiative on Psychiatry opposes the Political_Abuse_of_Psychiatry  wherever  it may occur and “supports those psychiatrists and psychiatric organizations that pressure the offending states to discontinue the practice and lobby vigorously those organizations which are wavering. The main way for individuals and organizations to work is through diplomatic channels. It is necessary to expose the practice and to embarrass countries that are at fault by expelling them from organizations such as the World Psychiatric Association. This can only be ensured by properly organized open investigation of psychiatric practice and interviews with the alleged victims”

Political abuse of psychiatry in the profession of medicine needs to be treated in the same way.

An evidence based Cochrane type assessment of their “research” and an Institute of Medicine Conflict of Interest review are long overdue.

In evaluating a physician for “impairment” or being “disruptive” the Physician Health Programs (PHPs)  under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP)  are not gathering data to form a hypothesis.  They are making data fit a hypothesis that arrived at the out-of-state “PHP-approved” assessment center well before the alleged miscreant doctor.

With guilt assumed from the start, no due process, no appeal, and no way out physicians are being bullied, demoralized, and dehumanized  to the point of hopelessness, helplessness and despair.

This needs to end now.

Medicine is predicated on competence, good-faith, and integrity. 

Medical ethics necessitates beneficence, respect, and autonomy. 

The scaffold erected here is designed for coercion and control. 

Exposure, transparency, and accountability are urgent. 

The emperor has no clothes.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

https://artbylisabelle.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/three-shells-and-a-pea-asam-fsphp-and-lmd/

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Looking for an Investigative Reporter to Question MRO—-Procedural, Ethical and Legal Justification Needed

As the Medical Review Officer (MRO)  for the Massachusetts state Physician Health Program (PHP), Physician Health Services, Inc. (PHS, inc.), Dr. Wayne Gavryck’s responsibility is simple.  He is supposed to verify that the chain-of-custody  in any and all drug and alcohol testing is intact before reporting a test as positive.

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Note Dr Gavryck is: 1. Certified by ASAM; 2. A .Certified Medical Review Officer (MRO) who “serves PHS in this capacity.” Although Dr. Gavryck serves PHS I would beg to differ on the MRO function. Accessed from PHS Website 1/15/2015 http://www.massmed.org/Physician_Health_Services/About/PHS_Associate_Directors/#.VM1dZlXF-hY

Dr. Gavryck evidently did not do that here.  In fact for more than a year he helped cover up an alcohol test that was intentionally fabricated at the behest of PHS Director of Operations Linda Bresnahan (who told me when I confronted her with the fact that I have never had or ever even been suspected of having an alcohol problem “you have an Irish last name–good luck finding anyone who will believe you!”

It took a formal complaint with the College of American Pathologists to get the truth out.  The whole fiasco can be seen here and here.

What Gavryck and his co-conspirators did is egregious and ethically reprehensible.  It shows a complete lack of moral compass and personal integrity.  What was done from collection to report to coverup  and everything in-between is indefensible on all levels (procedurally, ethically, and legally).

The documentary evidence shows with clarity that this was not accident or oversight.  It was intentional and purposeful misconduct.  I think everyone would agree that there should be zero-tolerance for forensic fraud in positions of power.    Any person of honor and civility would agree.

Transparency, regulation, and accountability are necessary for these groups.   It is an issue that needs to be acknowledged and addressed not ignored and covered up.

If Dr. Gavryck can give a procedural, ethical, or legal explanation of what was done then I stand corrected. Just one will suffice.  I’ll erase my blog and vanish into the woodwork.  But If he cannot then this needs to be addressed openly and publicly.   And whether he was involved in the original fraud or not is irrelevant. As the MRO for PHS it is his responsibility to correct it–however late the hour may be.

Perhaps Dr. Gavryck needs to see some of the damage he has caused in order to take this responsibility. Known as a “bag man” who simply rubber stamps positive tests at the request of Sanchez and Bresnahan (much like Annie Dookhan)  he does not see the damage that is caused. Forensic fraud has grave and far reaching effects and in this case has severely impacted many people and include patient deaths.

Perhaps Dr. Gavryck needs to take a “moral inventory” and see that this this type of behavior causes real damage to real people and put a face on it.

Perhaps Gavryck needs to be asked these questions directly from an investigative reporter.

It is people just like this who are killing physicians across the country.   The body count is vast and multiple. This has recently been underscored by the horror stories mounting in recent Medscape and KevinMD articles associating PHP programs like this one with the recent epidemic of suicides in doctors.

These people have removed themselves from accountability.  One way they do this is by withholding information and suppressing the truth.  This is facilitated by willing sympathizers and apologists who refuse to acknowledge or investigate wrongdoing.   Gavryck believes he is beyond reproach and is complacent that his friends will protect him and insulate him from harm.  The evidence, however, is not going away. Neither am I.

Those who are caught doing dirty deeds such as this need to be held accountable.  This requires the provision of information, justification for actions and the ability to be punished by outside groups.

I have the information.  Gavryck needs to provide justification for his actions and held accountable for them.  Perhaps an investigative journalist could interview him and ask him directly.

Help me get this exposed, corrected, and rectified.  The doctors of Massachusetts and the doctors of this entire country deserve better than this.

via Integrity and Accountability—Defend the MRO Procedurally, Ethically or Legally and win 100 Volumes of the Classics in Medicine Library and Salk and Sabin Autographs!.
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The MRO Code of Ethics--Seems like Dr. Gavryck's breaking them in sequential order!

The MRO Code of Ethics–Seems like Dr. Gavryck’s breaking them in sequential order!

Medscape Medical News—Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good? State-Based Programs Under Fire

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.11.46 AMMedscape Medical News > Psychiatry

Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?
State-Based Programs Under Fire
Pauline Anderson
August 19, 2015

There is growing scrutiny of US physician health programs (PHPs), which are state-based plans for doctors with substance abuse or other mental health problems.

Detractors of the PHP system claim physicians who voluntarily disclose they have mental health or drug problems can be forced into treatment without recourse, face expensive contracts, and are frequently sent out of their home state to receive the prescribed therapy. Some physicians allege that during their interaction with the treatment centers, large amounts of money were demanded up front before any assessment was even conducted.

In addition, critics assert that there is no real oversight and regulation of these programs.

Called by turns coercive, controlling, and secretive, with possible conflicts of interest, some say the PHP experience has led vulnerable physicians to contemplate suicide.
Two states ― North Carolina and Michigan ― have already been asked to step in and investigate many of the issues raised by PHP critics. In North Carolina, the state agreed with many of the concerns raised and recommended “better oversight” by its medical board and society. And in Michigan, litigation in the form of a class action lawsuit has been launched against the Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP), a program similar to PHPs.

Michael Langan, MD, an internal medicine specialist in Boston, has first-hand experience with a PHP.

Dr Langan was at Massachusetts General and Harvard University in Boston when he approached the Massachusetts state PHP to help him get off an opioid analgesic. He had begun taking the drug to help him sleep after developing shingles and said he spent several months in prescribed PHP treatment after “signing on the dotted line.”

On his first day at the assessment center, Dr Langan said he was asked how he was going to pay $80,000 cash. “This was before they even evaluated me,” he told Medscape Medical News. Subsequently, Dr Langan said he underwent an independent hair and fingernail analysis that turned out to be negative “for all substances of abuse.”

Since then, he has been documenting possible cases of negative interaction with these organizations. The system, he says, leaves physicians “without rights, depersonalized and dehumanized.”
He fears that the role of PHPs has expanded well beyond its original scope, becoming monitoring programs that have the power to refer physicians for evaluation and treatment even on the basis of administrative failings, such as being behind on chart notes, he said.

He has heard reports of “disruptive physicians” being diagnosed with “character defects.” The monitored physician, he added, “is forced to abide by any and all demands of the PHP ― no matter how unreasonable ― under the coloration of medical utility and without any evidentiary standard or right to appeal. Once in, it’s a nightmare.”

Disempowered, Without Recourse

It is estimated that 10% to 12% of physicians will develop a drug or alcohol problem at some point during their careers.

PHPs were initially established to help physicians grappling with a substance abuse or mental health problem and to provide them with access to confidential treatment while avoiding professional investigation and potential disciplinary action.

Often staffed by volunteer physicians and funded by state medical societies, the original intent of these programs was to help health professionals recover while protecting the public from potentially unsafe practitioners.

PHPs assess and monitor the physicians referred to them. In most states, physicians who comply with PHP recommendations can continue to work, provided they undergo regular drug testing and other testing to ensure sobriety.

Some PHPs are run by independent nonprofit corporations, others by state medical societies. Still others receive support from state medical licensing boards. The relationship of each PHP to the state medical board varies. The scope of services offered through PHPs also differs.

Today, such programs exist in every state except California, Nebraska, and Wisconsin and are represented by an umbrella organization known as the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).

According to its mission statement, the FSPHP’s mandate is to “support physician health programs in improving the health of medical professionals, thereby contributing to quality patient care.”

Coercive Process

Concerns about the PHP system have been percolating for a number of years. In 2012, an editorial by J. Wesley Boyd, MD, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, and John R Knight, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine brought many of the issues to the profession’s attention.

In their editorial, Dr Boyd and Dr Knight alleged that once a mental health issue has been disclosed, doctors are “compelled” to enter a PHP and are instructed to comply with any PHP recommendations or face disciplinary action.

“Thus, for most physicians, participation in a PHP evaluation is coercive, and once a PHP recommends monitoring, physicians have little choice but to cooperate with any and all recommendations, if they wish to continue practicing medicine.”

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Dr Boyd, who was associate director of the Massachusetts PHP for 6 years, elaborated on what he sees as the lack of due process afforded physicians by such programs.

“In general, these programs are given a free pass because it’s doctors helping doctors, and the feeling is that they wouldn’t be doing that if they weren’t generally nice people concerned about the well-being of others.”

Although many PHPs and the individuals running them are well intentioned, “there are generally few avenues for meaningful appeal” for doctors wishing to dispute PHP treatment recommendations, said Dr Boyd.

Approached on this question, the FSPHP’s director of program operations, Linda Bresnahan, maintains in a written response to Medscape Medical News that “options exist for a physician to seek an additional independent evaluation” and to appeal to the medical board or workplace.

Not so, said Dr Boyd, who counters that physicians have been made to feel “disempowered” and without recourse. “People tend to think that if you raise complaints, you’re just bellyaching and your complaint can’t be legitimate.”

Dr Boyd also said he has heard anecdotal reports of a number of doctors whose interactions with a PHP were so difficult they became suicidal.

“It’s not surprising that if you have your licensing board crawling up your rear end, rates of depression go up and rates of suicide go up,” he said.

Regular Audits in Order?

More and more physicians, even those involved in a PHP, feel that regular monitoring of such programs is in order. For example, Dr Boyd said there should be routine audits “to ensure that rampant abuses of power are not happening.”

Asked whether she believes random audits for state PHPs are warranted, the FSPHP’s Bresnahansaid that the federation “supports quality assurance processes, utilizing both internal and external approaches, and is working to develop guidelines for PHPs to promote accountability, consistency, and excellence.”

Michael Myers, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in New York City, who is on the advisory board of the New York PHP, also favors audits.

Dr Myers has been in practice for 35 years, the last 20 of which have been devoted to caring for physicians and their families. There is no doubt, he told Medscape Medical News, that his state’s PHP program has been “absolutely lifesaving” for some doctors.

However, he acknowledged that there have also been “a lot of unhappy campers” who took issue with the program’s process. At the same time, though, he can recall only one physician who made a formal complaint. Dr Myers noted that the PHP program was initiated on the premise, “if we don’t govern ourselves, then someone else will do it for us.”

“We are trying to have some autonomy, but if a person is unhappy, there isn’t the same mechanism that would exist, say, at a university, where there’s a whole protocol that a professor with a grievance can follow.”

This lack of mechanism for due process was at issue in a recent Michigan class action lawsuit launched by three health care professionals (two registered nurses and one physician assistant), who claim in the statement of complaint to represent the “hundreds, and potentially thousands of licensed health professionals injured by the arbitrary application of summary suspension procedures.”

Although the state program was originally designed to simply monitor the treatment of health professionals recommended by providers, the HPRP has recently “unilaterally expanded its role to include making treatment decisions,” according to the complaints.

They state that “the mandatory requirements of HPRP, coupled with the threat of summary suspension, make involvement in HPRP an involuntary program circumventing the due process rights of licensees referred to the program.”

They also claim the “involuntary” nature of HPRP policies and procedures and the unanimous application of suspension procedures upon HPRP case closure “are clear violations of procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment,” the plaintiffs claim.

Initially, the three plaintiffs had their licenses arbitrarily suspended. But in each case, the suspension was promptly overturned by a judge.

For some who have been watching these events, this lawsuit just might be the catalyst to make much needed changes to physician health programs across the country.

“Kafkaesque Nightmare”

Jesse Cavenar, Jr, MD, vice chairman and professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, Northcarolina, calls the PHP experience a “Kafkaesque nightmare.” Although he himself has not been referred to a PHP, he said a psychiatrist colleague of his, who was anonymously accused of smelling like alcohol, was evaluated and subsequently diagnosed with alcohol abuse.

According to Dr Cavenar, there was nothing to support the diagnosis. The doctor also claimed that the “thorough” physical examination noted in his record was never conducted. In the end, said Dr Cavenar, the psychiatrist was in treatment for 13 months. His medical and legal bills topped $90,000.

Dr Cavenar, who obtained power of attorney in this case, tried but failed to communicate with the treatment facility on behalf of his colleague. He also failed to obtain the medical record.

“When you have a facility that has made a diagnosis and they refuse to talk to anybody about how they made that diagnosis, you say, ‘Something is wrong here.’ ”

During his brush with the PHP system, Dr Cavenar also discovered that at least one evaluation facility has an “understanding” with the referring PHP that a physician will be diagnosed and spend a minimum 90-day interaction period in the treatment facility.

Medscape Medical News spoke to another knowledgeable, highly placed source, who asked not to be identified. He supported Dr Cavenar’s assertion of a mandatory 90-day assessment period, saying he had heard from two other physicians who had undergone treatment in the PHP system that there was in fact such a mandatory period proscribed for them in advance even of an evaluation to determine their level of need.

“I’m no bleeding heart; if you do the crime, you do the time,” said Dr Cavenar. “That’s not what we’re seeing here. We’re seeing people who didn’t do the crime but who are getting tapped with time.”

Bresnahan told Medscape Medical News via email that FSPHP is not aware of a blanket “90-day minimum interaction period” with treatment centers. Rather, among the many treatment centers familiar to PHPs, there are a variety of “programs” within the treatment centers that vary in length, and a variety of programs such as outpatient, intensive outpatient to residential treatment, and variations of residential treatment.

“Treatment centers often offer a 1- to 5-day multidisciplinary evaluation to determine treatment needs, including length of stay and outpatient vs inpatient treatment options. In general, residential treatment centers offer different programming that vary in length of stay from 30-day treatment programs to 45-day treatment programs to 90-day treatment programs.

“Along with these options, PHPs do utilize treatment centers that will provide clients with a variable number of days of treatment. In these examples, the treatment center determines the recommended length of stay during the course of treatment based on clinical needs,” she notes.

Asked about treatment costs to physicians, Bresnahan responded that she is unaware of reports of large lump sums expected on admission.

“FSPHP is unaware of excessive up-front fees in the $80,000 range,” she writes. “It is our understanding that a treatment phase can range from $5000 to $50,000 depending upon the days and the type of programs.

“A number of healthcare professional programs are now having progress with insurance reimbursement to offset portions of the cost,” she adds. “Some offer financial assistance based on a needs assessments, and some may also offer payment plans,” Bresnahan told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Cavenar felt so strongly about his colleague not having due process that he lobbied for an audit of North Carolina’s PHP.

His initial efforts were ignored by the state medical board, he said, so he approached the state governor’s office. Finally, Dr Cavenar said he and three other concerned psychiatrists successfully secured a state audit of North Carolina’s PHP system, the results of which were released in April 2014.

PHP Originator Speaks Out

According to psychiatrist Nicholas Stratas, MD, one of the problems with the North Caroline PHP is that decisions regarding a referred physician are vetted by a legal team.

Dr Stratas has a unique vantage point. He was the originator of the North Carolina PHP, was the first-ever psychiatrist and president of the North Carolina Medical Board, and still holds numerous affiliations with both Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

“In our state, the PHP has turned into something that was never intended…. [It] has become bureaucratized and legalized,” he told Medscape Medical News. “When I was on the board, we had one attorney; now, they must have six or seven attorneys, and the whole job of triaging physicians is left to the legal department.”

Dr Stratas said that at least until the state audit, the North Carolina PHP left physicians with no legal recourse once they were referred to a treatment facility.

“They have taken the position that because they are a peer review mechanism, they don’t have to comply with the nationally recognized condition that everybody should have access to their own records; they will not provide records to the physician.”

Dr Stratas related the case of a psychiatrist who after a detailed assessment was determined to have no addiction or mental health problems. This psychiatrist got caught up in the PHP system after an anonymous caller complained about “weird” behavior, according to Dr Stratas.

On questionable advice from his attorney, the psychiatrist voluntarily suspended his medical licence, thinking it was temporary and would help sort the situation out, but now he cannot get it back until he undergoes “treatment,” said Dr Stratas. After almost 2 years, said Dr Stratas, this psychiatrist is still without his medical licence.

Auditor’s Report: Potential for Undetected Abuse

The state auditor’s report found no abuse by North Carolina’s PHP. However, there was a caveat ― the report determined that abuse could occur and potentially go undetected.

It also found that the North Carolina PHP created the appearance of conflicts of interest by allowing the centers to provide both patient evaluation and treatments and that procedures did not ensure that physicians receive quality evaluations and treatment because the PHP had no documented criteria for selecting treatment centers and did not adequately monitor them.

“Abuse could occur and not be detected…because physicians were not allowed to effectively represent themselves when disputing evaluations… [and because] the North Carolina Medical Board did not periodically evaluate the Program and the North Carolina Medical Society did not provide adequate oversight,” the auditor’s report noted.

The North Carolina PHP “did not use documented criteria to select treatment centers” and “did not conduct periodic evaluation of the treatment centers to ensure compliance with established operating criteria.”

The auditor added that the program’s “predominant” use of out-of-state treatment centers placed an undue burden on physicians.

Furthermore, according to the report, the North Carolina PHP “created the appearance of conflicts of interest by allowing treatment centers that receive Program referrals to fund its retreats, paying scholarships for physicians who could not afford treatment directly to treatment centers, and allowing the center to provide both patient evaluations and treatments.”

The report recommended that physicians have access to “objective independent due process procedures” developed by the state medical board and medical society and that plans be implemented for “better oversight” of the program.

The report also stated that North Carolina’s PHP was required to make it clear that physicians “may choose separate evaluation and treatment providers” and that the PHP undertake efforts to identify qualified in-state treatment centers for physicians.

Since its release almost a year ago, many of these recommendations have been addressed by the North Carolina Medical Board.

“We absolutely embrace the auditor’s recommendations and are working really hard to implement them,” Thom Mansfield, the board’s chief legal counsel, told Medscape Medical News.

North Carolina’s PHP has undertaken to provide periodic reports to the medical board, and an independent audit of the program will be carried out every 3 years, Mansfield added.

Physicians who disagree with their assessment or treatment can now have their case reviewed by a committee independent of the PHP compliance committee and of the medical board, he said.

Mansfield also noted that the state PHP has established criteria for identifying suitable centers to conduct assessments and offer treatment, with an emphasis on developing more in-state resources. “I know the PHP is now referring people to at least two in-state centers,” he said.

In taking these actions, said Mansfield, the North Carolina Medical Board hopes it is “showing leadership” for other states.

May 3rd, 2013–Dr. Steve Adelman: The Mentality of What’s in Charge and Proof that Stupidity Often Reigns!

As the oldest medical society in the United States the Massachusetts Medical Society can count some of the greatest minds in the history of American medicine as members but this guy is not one of them.  My how far we have fallen!   This same author has also unintelligibly and bizarrely compared the medical profession to  Barbra Streisand’s face and tried to send a medical student who (naively) presented to him with “sleep apnea” for an evaluation in Kansas for “schizophrenia.”  He also opportunistically blamed the Boston Marathon bombing on “marijuana withdrawal” as seen below:

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The sophomoric mnemonics are neither clever nor illuminating.  Unworthy of  Readers Digest circa 1957, this dumbing down of doctors needs to end.  The very soul and practice  of medicine has been both  castrated and lobotomized with the  same dull and very very blunt instrument. How does one reconcile the fact that the very same medical society that publishes the New England Journal of Medicine is allowing this type of tripe and rabble to get past editorial review?  
In 1969, through an act of the state legislature, the Massachusetts Medical Society updated its mission to read:
“The purposes of the Massachusetts Medical Society shall be to do all things as may be necessary and appropriate to advance medical knowledge, to develop and maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of medical practice and health care, and to promote medical institutions formed on liberal principles for the health, benefit and welfare of citizens of the commonwealth.”
With a foundation and history built and based on of scholarship and critical thought we need to support the highest levels of science, fact, intelligence and reason.  Stupidity tries but it should not rein.    Before the Boston Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1842, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes delivered two long lectures entitled “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions.” He characterized one of its popular practitioners, Dr. Robert Wesselhoeft, as one of those:
 “Emperics [quacks], ignorant barbers, and men of that sort…who announce themselves ready to relinquish all the accumulated treasure of our art, to trifle with life upon the strength of these fantastic theories.” That “pretended science” as Holmes called it, was “a mingled mass of perverse ingenuity, of tinsel erudition, of imbecile credulity, and artful misrepresentation, too often mingled in practice…with heartless and shameless imposition.”
 And Holmes words are as apt and appropriate today as they were in  mid 19th Century Boston!   Probably more so.  It’s no different. No different at all.    Be it homeopathy or 1939 quack spirituality, quackery is quackery is quackery.  Silence is definitely not the answer.
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The Medical Profession under Dictatorship–Revisiting Dr. Leo Alexander’s prescient warnings from 1949

“Let it be considered, too, that the present inquiry is not concerning a matter of right, if I may say so, but concerning a matter of fact.”–Adam Smith

“Most men endure the sacrifice of the intellect more easily than the sacrifice of their daydreams.  They cannot bear that their utopias should run aground on the unalterable necessities of human existence”  -Ludwig von Mises

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“Science under dictatorship becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the dictatorship.” So begins Medical Science Under Dictatorship1 written in 1949 by Leo Alexander and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Alexander acted as consultant to the Secretary of war and the Chief Counsel for the Nuremberg trials.

The guiding philosophic principle is Hegelian or “rational utility” and “corresponding doctrine and planning”, Alexander said “replaced moral, ethical and religious values” and Nazi propaganda was highly effective in perverting public opinion and public conscience. He explains how this expressed itself in a rapid decline in standards of professional ethics in the medical profession.   This all “started from small beginnings” with subtle shifts in the attitudes of physicians to accept the belief that there is such a thing as “a life not worthy to be lived.”

In 1985 the British Sociologist G.V. Stimson wrote of a new form of professional control in the United States that had emerged in the preceding decade whose “success rests on the ability to take certain areas of conduct such as alcoholism and drug abuse (which are formally disciplinary issues) and handle them as diseases.”2

Stimson writes:

“The impaired physician movement is characterized by a number of evangelical recovered alcoholic and addict physicians, whose recovery has been accompanied by an involvement in medical society and treatment programs. Their ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment is based on their own claim to insider’s knowledge.”2

Among these authoritative pronouncements was the use of specialized treatment centers. Many professionals were critical of these programs including Assistant Surgeon General John C. Duffy who criticized the “boot-camp mentality”4 toward doctors and American Society of Addiction Medicine President Leclair Bissel who when asked in a 1997 interview when the field began to see physicians as a specialized treatment population replied “when they started making money..” .” 5

Amid reports of abuse, coercion and control in facilities using a doctor’s medical license as “leverage,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a series of reports in 1987 documenting the multiple suicides of health care practitioners at one of these programs (5 while in the facility and at least 20 after discharge).6   Neither these suicides nor a large settlement against the same facility (finding a non-alcoholic doctor was intentionally misdiagnosed as an alcoholic and forced into months of treatment)  for fraud, malpractice, and false imprisonment involving intentional misdiagnosis7 generated any interest among the medical community at large.

And by 1995 the door had closed as the Federation of State Physician Health Programs ( FSPHP ) relationship with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), the national organization responsible for the licensing and discipline of doctors,  was forged.  A 1995 issue of The Federal Bulletin: The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline, contains articles outlining the high success rates of these programs in 8 states with an editorial comment from the FSMB that concludes:

“cooperation and communication between the medical boards and the physician health programs must occur in an effort to protect the public while assisting impaired physicians in their recovery.”8

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has approved any and all policy and regulation put forth by the impaired physician movement  then organized under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) with no apparent inquiry or opposition.

In 2003 Dr. Gregory Skipper, one of the key players of the impaired physician movement partnered with NMS labs to develop the alcohol metabolite ethyl-glucuronide (EtG) as a laboratory developed test13 14 he proposed be used as a monitoring tool for covert alcohol use in physicians after a pilot study involving just 14 psychiatric inpatients.15

The policy entrepreneurship this group so effectively uses to advance their goals can be seen in the August 25, 2004 Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline which contains articles both presenting the problem 11 and providing the solution.11   The EtG was then introduced as an accurate and reliable indicator of covert alcohol use and the impact of this cannot be underestimated as it introduce to the market not only unregulated non FDA approved tests for forensic use but tests reaching further back into history then those used by workplace drug-testing programs.

The limitations of any test needs to be understood both in the forensic and clinical context but there is a lot less flexibility in the forensic context when people’s liberties, freedoms or property rights ( as with a medical license) are in jeopardy.

Sensitivity and specificity need to be carefully considered.  The positive predictive value of a test is the true positives over the true positives plus false positives.  If you are going to sanction somebody as a result of a single test that test needs to have 100% sensitivity.

When workplace drug testing was introduced debates over both the accuracy and scope of tests occurred. The employees right to privacy and the employers right to have a drug-free workplace were discussed with the general consensus being testing for impairment was a legitimate concern but preservation of private life should remain.

What was done here dissolves both.

PHP programs require abstinence from all substances including alcohol and strict adherence to 12-step doctrine9 yet many of the physicians monitored by them are neither addicts nor alcoholics. Requiring abstinence from drugs and alcohol while using non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests in monitoring programs is a dangerous combination. The suicides reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 1987 were prior to the introduction of these tests. Adding these tests of unknown validity to an already abusive program of coercion and control would only worsen the situation.

I have been hearing of multiple suicides involving both the fear of results and false results. I have also been hearing of doctors who have killed themselves because they were suffering from depression but did not seek help as their fear of being ensnared into the PHP outweighed the need to get help.

Three decades after G.V. Stimson so accurately defined the impaired physician movement the impaired physician movement defines the professional control of medicine..   Their involvement in medical society physician health programs (PHPs) and treatment programs has evolved into absolute control of both. Pronouncements on physician impairment have evolved from insider’s claims to written edict.   And their reach has extended from impairment due to drugs and alcohol to “potential impairment” and “relapse without use.” Their reach has extended from drug and alcohol impairment to all other aspects of medicine and the impact has been profound.   Medicine has been subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the impaired physician movement and doctors are dying in droves du to institutional injustice.

How does the profession of medicine reconcile the fact that we have allowed an as yet non ABMS recognized “self-certification” specialty full reign over those who are ABMS recognized?  How is it that we allow non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) of unknown validity on doctors coerced into state Physician Health Programs (PHPs)?    A recent debate in Washington calling for regulation of  “clinical”  LDTs just took place and the fact that they are being used for “forensic” purposes in doctors is incomprehensible.   Has anyone noticed it is the same people introducing the tests who are claiming PHPs are the “gold standard,” trying to push them on other EAPs and calling for more widespread use of these tests?

The use of non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) for drug and alcohol testing  is currently limited to PHPs and the criminal justice system. (i.e. monitoring programs in which those doing the testing have power and those being tested have no power). That may soon change. See  Drug Testing and the Future of American Drug Policy and The American Society of Addiction Medicine White Paper on Drug Testing describing the plans for widespread expansion of this drug testing to other groups including kids.

Those involved in the Massachusetts General Hospital Laboratory Medicine, Toxicology and addiction medicine departments looked critically at these tests and decided hands down against using them. Why? Because no evidence base exists and the potential harm far outweighs any perceived benefit.  “Research” has been done on those being monitored by PHPs and the criminal justice system and Drs. J Wesley Boyd, M.D., PhD, and John Knight, M.D. of Harvard Medical School who collectively have over two decades of experience as Associate Directors with the Massachusetts PHP, Physician Health Services, Inc. addressed this research in a 2012 article published in the Journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine entitle Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs.  The allegations that PHPs are engaging in research in violation of the Nuremberg code ( that was a direct result of the Nuremberg trials for which Dr. Alexander acted as consultant ) should have raised some eyebrows.   It hasn’t.

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What do you think will happen when ASAM gets recognized by the ABMS in 2 years as is expected?   These “addiction medicine” specialists will inevitably join hospital formulary , clinical lab, toxicology and ethics panels to do the same thing they have done to get where they are today.   They will do the same thing they have done with state PHPs.  Those with a hidden agenda will be able to outvote those of good conscience and thoughtful intelligence and patient care will then be subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the impaired physicians movement.

This system of institutional injustice is killing doctors by suicide as the medical societies and Departments of Public Health have given PHPs full autonomy and authority and it is poised to impact patient care.

I challenge you to name any other company, organization, group or agency within or related to the profession of medicine and the field of science that is bereft of absolutely all  transparency,  regulation or oversight?  It does not exist.

The PHP scaffold has deliberately  removed themselves from all aspects of accountability including answerability, justification of actions and the ability of outside actors to hold them in judgment of any information provided by answerability.   Heads I win, tails you lose.   That is a big red flag in itself. and those not currently being held accountable they may very well be after you next as their plans include expansion to other groups includes EAPs, the Department of Transportation, athletes, students and even kids!

Doctors are afraid to talk about this for fear of being ensnared themselves.  Those already in these programs will not speak for fear of punishment. This is a legitimate concern and needs to be discussed openly and publicly.  I need allies!

 Help me get the word out –too many doctors are dying.  Three died by suicide in one month alone who were being monitored by the Oklahoma PHP and these suicides did not even make the local papers let alone national news!     They need to.

In The Argument of Fascism Ludwig von Mises wrote:

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error.

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Physician Suicide, Organizational Justice and the “Cry of pain” Model: Hopelessness, Helplessness and Defeat

tireddoctorAccording to Talbott, “impaired doctors must first acknowledge their addiction and overcome their ‘terminal uniqueness’ before they can deal with a drug or alcohol problem.” “Terminal uniqueness “ is a phrase Talbott uses to describe doctors’ tendency to think they can heal themselves. “M-Deity” refers to doctors “being trained to think they’re God,” an unfounded generalization considering the vast diversity of individuals that make up our profession. This attitude, according to some critics, stems from the personal histories of the treatment staff, including Talbott, who are recovering alcoholics and addicts themselves. One such critic was Assistant Surgeon General under C. Everett Koop John C. Duffy who said that Ridgeview suffered from a “boot-camp mentality” toward physicians under their care and “assume every physician suffering from substance abuse is the same lying, stealing, cheating, manipulating individual they were when they had the illness. Certainly some physicians are manipulative, but it’s naïve to label all physicians with these problems.”

Disrupted Physician

They can be a terror to your mind and show you how to hold your tongue
They got mystery written all over their forehead
They kill babies in the crib and say only the good die young
They don’t believe in mercy
Judgement on them is something that you’ll never see
They can exalt you up or bring you down main route
Turn you into anything that they want you to be–Bob Dylan, Foot of Pride


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Although no reliable statistics yet exist, anecdotal reports suggest a marked rise in physician suicide in recent years. From the reports I am receiving it is a lot more than the oft cited “medical school class” of 400 per year.

This necessitates an evaluation of predisposing risk factors such as substance abuse and depression, but also requires a critical examination of what external forces may be involved in the descent from suicidal ideation to suicidal…

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